Hundreds of people from throughout the greater Los Angeles area are expected to convene Saturday, September 13th, at Santa Monica City Hall for the Los Angeles Out of the Darkness Community Walk. The 5k fundraising walk will benefiit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by helping support local and national suicide prevention and awareness programs.

The Los Angeles Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 150 community walks being held this fall nationwide.

“Suicide is a national health problem, but, unlike other issues such as cancer and diabetes, there is a stigma associated with suicide,” says Laura Levinsky, Los Angeles area director for the foundation. “[With this day], we hope to bring suicide out of the darkness and raise $100,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

The foundation is the only national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding suicide prevention research, education and awareness programs, both to prevent suicides and to assist those affected by suicide, according to officials of the organization. Founded in 1987 by concerned scien- tists and business and community leaders, and those who have lost loved ones to suicide, the group is headquartered in New York with 20 affiliate offices nationwide.

It is estimated that close to one million Americans make a suicide attempt, more than 30,000 die by suicide, and more than 20 million suffer from depression each year. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and is the second-leading cause of death for college students, according to numbers released by the foundation.

Since 2000, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has invested more than $10 million in new biological, genetic and behavioral studies aimed at improving the understanding of why suicide occurs and how best to prevent it.

The foundation’s public service campaign is aimed at preventing teen suicide. It features teens talking about the importance of getting help for a friend at risk.

The Los Angeles Out of the Darkness walk will be from 9 a.m. to noon, beginning at Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main St., Santa Monica. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and parking will be available at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium parking lot, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica.

Walkers will begin the 5k route down Colorado Boulevard to Ocean Avenue, headed north, returning through Palisades Park and ending at City Hall.

Information about the walk, outofthe darkness.org/. Information about suicide prevention, afsp.org/.

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